Opening doors, changing perceptions, and forging unprecedented partnerships.

Our Story

The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. dedicated to making the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The Foundation is devoted to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence, and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes.

Founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano—entrepreneur, philanthropist, civic leader, and founder of Paychex, Inc. —the Foundation “imagines the possibilities,” advocating for families, fighting for their dignity, and giving people with IDD the opportunity to thrive in their communities. With more than $60 million in gross assets, it awards about $3 million annually to non-profit organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.
Tom Golisano with arms crossed.

We imagine the possibilities, advocating for families, fighting for their dignity and giving people with IDD the opportunity to thrive in their communities.

Tom Golisano

Our Mission

We are committed to promoting inclusion, acceptance, and opportunity though the initiatives we support, so that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are valued as people who can contribute and be a vital part of our community – as good students, good neighbors and good workers.

We want to create a better understanding of the contributions people with IDD can and do make to their communities and encourage the delivery of services in ways that create more opportunities for meaningful participation in all aspects of community life.

Our Values


People with IDD are treated with dignity and respect.

Community Inclusion

People with IDD are active and contributing members of their communities. 

Person-Directed Services and Supports

Individuals are able to shape their own lives with a supportive care team; have choices, flexible options and access to services in inclusive settings in the community.

Proactive, High Engagement Philanthropy

Working with a broad array of community partners to increase options for community inclusion and improve the service system by connecting stakeholders, sparking innovative ideas and demonstrating a better way. 

High Performance

Funded projects hold significant promise for moving the impact needle in a meaningful and measurable way; agencies demonstrate sound fiscal and management practices.


Gives voice to self-advocates; provides public awareness and education about talents and contributions of people with disabiltiies; promotes relevant policy and system-level solutions. 

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